Well, folks, it's like this. I always used to consider myself to be a fan of historical fiction, until I tried reading more of the stuff that's come out in the last decade or so, and found myself getting more and more fed up with the whole genre. (Before, you see, I read children's books, which were better in some ways.)
But here's the other thing. I really love the IDEA of historical fiction. I like to read about eras gone by, and if it can't be actual classics, it has to be set in a long-ago time period. And there's tons of it out there-- it's hard for me to believe that none of it would be suited to my tastes. I mean, this one's great. But I had 'inside knowledge' that led me to that, haha.
As hardly any of you probably know, I've been working at a library for the last two months. (I know-- swellissimus, right? :D I've really been enjoying it. Boooooks.) I'm what they call a "page", and my #1 task is shelving the books. And keeping them organized on the shelves. Which takes work when there is a perpetual stream of people messing it up.
|Not actually a book cover,|
but it looks like it could be.
The point is, I see an awful lot of books on an almost everyday basis. And I see tons of goooorgeous book covers. (Also some really cheesy ones that just scream "corny story going on here!") But, in the same way that you cannot judge a book by its cover when you don't like the cover, you can't judge a book by its lovely, appealing cover, either, because it might end up being blehhhhh. Some of them also come with an intriguing synopsis, as well-- but those also often end up being blehhhhhh.
And when I'm talking about historical fiction here, I mainly mean the romance-based Christian or "inspirational" ones. Because those seem to dominate the genre. The historical fiction books I see that aren't Christian, I doubt because who knows what content they may have.
But the books being Christian, as I have found out, does not mean I am going to approve of the content. Sadly enough.
Wow, I'm taking forever to get to the point. The point is, I want your recommendations... IF you can think of any books that don't have any of the things I keep finding that are incessantly annoying.
What are those things?
Here is a list. I'm good at lists.
- Descriptions of and references to physical attraction. (This is the Reigning Annoyance for me, so I'm listing it first.) To the extent that I am uncomfortable reading this because it seems inappropriate. First of all, I don't want to be filling my mind with that, and secondly, these characters are usually not married (to each other, that is-- obviously it would be even worse if they were to somebody else, ha), and more often than not aren't even engaged or courting or whatever. Ugh. Basically, I don't want the guy in the story to be thinking at us about the girl's looks concerning anything below the nose. Let's just say that. :P If anything else is mentioned, it must be sparingly. And on the other side, if I read one more description about a girl admiring a man's muscles? My head will explode. And THEN my blog posts will cease altogether. ;) Anyways... even if it didn't make me roll my eyes and/or squirm and/or stop reading the book entirely, I would still hate the shallowness of it. So many of the books seem to have the main characters be first attracted to each other in some kind of physical way and that's how the whole story seems to go. In my opinion, Romantic Interest should begin by attraction to their character or personality, general manners, etc... and the rest will follow-- and doesn't need to be described. Thinking someone is handsome/pretty is not quite the same thing, but it also shouldn't be the basis of romantic interest.
- Speaking of the guy's thoughts-- I really prefer it if there is no Male Main Character Narrative in the story. A lot of this is because of the issue listed above, so if that's not applicable, I might not mind this too much. Still, a lot of the way guys think tends to annoy me (sometimes it's even worse if a woman is writing it, oddly enough), and unless I'm particularly fond of the hero, I'm probably not going to care about his point of view, or would rather leave it up to my own imagination. (Plus, the constant switching of narratives gets old.)
- Characters kissing before there is any understanding between them, or doing it like every time they see each other. (My preference in general is the wedding or even after-wedding kiss being the first, which I think is really sweet, but I'm not going to not read a book because they don't follow that. However, I hate the Random "accidental" kissing. Um.) Also, I don't want any kissing to be too descriptive. Eww. Details are not necessary. This kind of fits in with the first matter on the list.
- Wife-hunters and husband-catchers. These people annoy me in real life, so I certainly don't want to be reading about them. That is, those who seem to view marriage as the ultimate goal of life, or at least think they need to be married, and sort of view every unattached person of the opposite gender that they come in contact with in terms of possible spouse-material.
- In general, girls who are boy-crazy. Eww.
- Also guys who are girl-crazy. Eww. :P
- When the main guy character is pretty much a jerk and the heroine dislikes him but the guy keeps pursuing her anyways, probably obnoxiously, but somehow they end up together in the end. Especially if, while the heroine dislikes him, she apparently is secretly attracted to him the whole time. Um what. (If you think this sounds like P&P you are wrong on so many levels and should probably not be reading this blog. Haha.)
- Anything either set in Texas or with a Texan as a main character, or the book being written by a Texas author. No offense to anybody living in that state, but it seems like every book I've tried that apply to one of those cases have been full of the stuff I can't stand.
- Actually, not a huge fan of the western storylines-- but I'm willing to bend on that one if it really is a good story. (After all, I would probably be considered as living in the west myself. But I've really never been a fan of the western-y stuff, so in that way maybe I'm an insult to my side of the U.S. :P Well, the Oregon Trail is fun. But cowboys and the like... nope.)
- In general, the book must be clean-- free of often-repeated or more-than-mild swear words, and if there are Adult-ish Topics they must be dealt with Discreetly. If you can actually find a non-Christian book that meets those requirements, by all means recommend it, as long as it's accurately old-fashioned with old-fashioned principles and they aren't trying to insert Modern Stuff and pretend it was all the same back then.
- The whole story must not be overwhelmingly Romance. It can have romance in it, but there has to be other stuff going on with the plot to keep me interested.
- Nothing too soap-opera-y, please.
So. Can it actually be POSSIBLE that there is some historical fiction out there to meet those guidelines? I'm giving it one last chance. *narrows eyes dramatically* (By the way, anything 1950's or earlier will qualify. Personally, if it takes place before the 18th century, I probably won't be too interested, though.)
And in case it is any help to you, here are some things I have a fondness for:
~The Edwardian era
~References to Classic Literature are sprinkled throughout
~Storylines that have a focus on close female friendship
And here are things that bore me:
~You get the picture
~Too many French names that are hard to keep track of, haha
Okay, sooo... I'm anxious to see if anybody can come up with anything. ;) (Note: it doesn't have to have been published recently. For instance, maybe Christy is so good because it was written back in 1967.)
Oh! One last thing-- recommendations for Christmas books and why you like them, one-two-three-go. (I'd like to have some new ones this year, and I might as well get some Choices lined up ahead of time. It can be for children or adults, old setting or new setting, as long as it's a good story and feels Christmassy, and of course is free of inappropriateness.)